• Storage growth: separating reality from the hype

The importance of data is undoubtedly growing in all industries. As evolving technology finds new ways to gather and process information, data is becoming the life blood of any business.

With every new tech trend that emerges, whether that is the Internet of Things or Big Data analytics, our reliance on data seems to grow. The analyst IDC has predicted that this will cause the volume of data in existence to double every two years during this decade.

The experts say that this ‘data bulge’ will create headaches for the organisations having to manage and store all this data. The much proffered solution to this is cloud computing, which can provide on-demand scalability.

However, is this realistically what is happening in UK businesses? Are they really scrambling to find a cloud partner to help them handle rapidly growing quantities of data?

A data bulge?

The answer appears to be ‘no’. A survey of almost 500 mid-market organisations, by Probrand, found that just 3% of firms are having to handle data growth rates higher than 25% year-on-year. The vast majority (77%) are actually dealing with a steady growth of less than 10%.

When you consider the macroeconomic performance of both the UK, and global economies, in recent years, that finding is not actually that surprising.

“Data growth does not come out of thin air,” explains Mark Lomas, IT consultant at Probrand. “There will always be a correlation between the performance of a business and the amount of data being produced.”

For companies wanting to predict future data growth rates, Lomas claims it makes sense to simply look at the organisation’s performance in recent years and its historic levels of data accumulation, and match that against forecast growth of the business. 

Cloud adoption?

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It is undeniable that some organisations are using cloud computing for storage. The Cloud Industry Forum estimates that cloud adoption in the UK has actually grown 75% over the last five years. The industry body expects half of businesses to move their entire estate to the cloud at some point in the future. But that point is not now.

The Probrand survey found that just 13% of firms are using cloud as their primary storage platform. The reality is that most organisations still prefer to keep their data on-premise. Almost two thirds (61%) are using SAN solutions, while 16% are still using NAS or DAS.

There may well be an element of protectionism behind why IT managers are not utilising the cloud – they might not fancy the idea of making their role of maintaining this infrastructure redundant just yet. When asked about the future of storage however, the number remains low – just 22% believe cloud will become their primary solution. “What is clear is that there is not a big rush to move to the cloud at the moment,” said Lomas.

Demand for new innovations?

This reluctance to convert to a new storage model is also notable with the emergence of another new technology, converged infrastructure (CI). This solution seems to have a lot of appeal; lower operating costs, reduced downtime and the ability to deploy applications faster. Adoption levels also grew 50% last year, according to Gartner. However, the study found that only 29% see this as a serious proposition for their organisation, while 70% remain unsure of its value.

What actually matters most to organisations when it comes to storage is the cost (30%) and performance (20%). “Storage is often viewed from a utilitarian perspective by many businesses,” said Lomas. “They may be willing to hear about new features but they will not always be willing to pay for all those bells and whistles – especially when the FD takes a look at the cost.” In fact, just 8% said they wanted to see greater innovation from storage vendors.



Improving performance

When it comes to what improvements organisations would like to see in storage, however, performance (32%) tops the list ahead of lower prices (25%). Lomas points out, however, that improved performance may actually mean paying more upfront – with the likely savings being delivered in the long term.

“If your SAN can do more with your data, you start to get additional value from storage. Features like deduplication allow companies to maximise the amount data on a SAN, and it’s not unusual to see organisations get an extra year out of a product before filling up the capacity available,” says Lomas

“Deduplication can provide positives for businesses of any size, and the bigger the capacity requirement, the bigger the savings are likely to be.”

With the vast majority of mid-market firms choosing to keep their data on-premise – at least for the typical life expectancy of their next storage product – this may be the best way forward for companies looking to sweat their assets and get maximum value out of their storage.



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